Pina Colada Poke Cake

Pina Colada Poke Cake is the perfect Memorial Day dessert, or serve it at any summertime potluck or picnic. With flavors of coconut, pineapple, lime, and rum, it’s refreshing chilled and serves a crowd!

Pina Colada Poke Cake

Here it is! My go-to dessert for Summer 2024. It’s a refreshing chilled confection that tastes like a tropical vacation. It is uncomplicated, baked in a 13×9-inch pan from which you’ll also serve it. Poke cakes are all about perforating the cake all over with a fork, then adding a flavorful soaking syrup that keeps the sponge moist and delicious. This cake’s syrup is a sweet coconut-lime drench, with a touch of rum flavor (extract or the real thing – you choose!). Just as the title implies, it is inspired by the classic piña colada cocktail.

Make the Pineapple Cake Batter

First, whisk together flour, leaven, and salt in mixing bowl. Then, combine some eggs, sugar, vanilla, and oil in the bowl of an electric mixer. Alternate the flour mixture with a 20 oz. can of crushed pineapple (in its own juice), until a consistent batter forms.

If you’re a studied cake baker, then you already know how moist oil-based cakes can be. And with the addition of crushed pineapple? This is one moist and tender cake!

Pay Attention to the Bake Times

Bake this cake for 45 minutes, then tent the cake with foil. This helps the cake bake through without over-browning the top. Bake 10-15 minutes longer, or until a toothpick tester comes out clean.

Tip: Spritz the foil with a little cooking spray in case it touches the top of the cake. My foil tent sagged onto the cake’s surface and pulled a little of the browned top away when I removed it (see following image). Not that it matters, because it does get covered up. But if you have perfectionist tendencies, you’ll be happier with the end result.

Poke Holes in the Baked Cake

Use a fork or the handle of a wooden spoon to poke holes all over the warm cake. The fork is my preference, as it perforates the cake’s crumb all over, and helps every single square inch soak up some delicious coconut-lime syrup. Now. About that syrup.

Put the Lime in the Coconut

It’s SO flavorful and delicious! And this is thanks to Cream of Coconut, a product specifically for Pina Colada cocktails and wet cakes such as this one. I used and recommend Coco Lopez brand. It is a sweet syrupy canned coconut product that should not be confused with coconut cream or coconut milk. Be sure to get the right canned coconut!

Combine the cream of coconut, the juice of one lime, and rum extract (or rum) in a bowl. Whisk together until well combined and then slowly spoon or pour the mixture over the warm cake.

Make the Coconut Pudding Layer

In a large mixing bowl, beat together vanilla instant pudding mix, heavy cream, and coconut extract. Whip until well combined and thickened. The mixture may look slightly grainy – this is normal.

This creates a thick, billowy topping for the cake. Get it on there immediately, as the starch in the pudding mix will begin to firm quickly. Spread evenly with a rubber spatula.

Follow up with some sweetened whipped cream. Which is just heavy cream, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla extract. Spread it evenly over the coconut pudding topping. Refrigerate until the pudding and whipped cream are set, at least 2 hours. All those layers of tropical flavor? Just, wonderful!

Pina Colada Poke Cake

Make it Pretty

Add some maraschino cherries with stems, coconut chips (or flake coconut) and some fresh lime slices before serving. The cake can be made a few days ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator without the garnishes. Or, if you must decorate the cake ahead of time, add only the cherries and coconut. The lime slices will weep juices and the rinds will dry out, so add them just before serving.

Pina Colada Poke Cake
Pina Colada Poke Cake
Pina Colada Poke Cake

This Pina Colada Poke Cake just screams summertime! I love how simple it is to bake up and assemble in a 13×9 inch dish. Everyone that tastes it loves it – and it makes a big cake! So if you have a summer family reunion or potluck, this may serve you (and your guests) well.

Related recipe: Pina Colada Cupcakes

Pina Colada Poke Cake

Heather Baird
The flavors of pineapple, coconut, lime, and rum all come together in this chilled sheet cake. Pineapple cake is soaked with sweet coconut-lime syrup with just a touch of rum. It’s layered with coconut pudding and sweetened whipped cream.
Cream of Coconut, such as Coco Lopez brand, is a sweet syrupy canned coconut product that should not be confused with coconut cream or coconut milk. Be sure to get the right canned coconut! You can most often find it in the cocktail mixers aisle at the grocery store.
As written, this cake does not have alcohol. If you prefer real rum in the soaking syrup, replace the rum extract with 2 tablespoons of rum.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
2 hours chill time 2 hours
Total Time 3 hours 25 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12

Equipment

  • 13×9 baking dish
  • Colorful cocktail umbrella picks (1-2)

Ingredients
 
 

Pineapple Cake

  • Nonstick cooking spray for the baking dish
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain salt
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup vegetable oil I like sunflower oil
  • 20 oz. crushed canned pineapple in juice 1 large can

Coconut Soaking Syrup

  • 15 oz. cream of coconut 1 can such as Coco Lopez
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice from 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon rum extract

Coconut Pudding Layer

  • 3.4 oz. vanilla instant pudding mix 1 small box
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons coconut extract

Whipped Cream Layer and Garnishes

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 10 maraschino cherries with stems patted dry
  • 1/3 cup thick cut coconut chips or sweetened flake coconut toasted
  • 6 lime slices optional

Instructions
 

Pineapple Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly spray a 13×9 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, and oil. Mix well to combine.
  • Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the canned pineapple in juice. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix again briefly until well combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan.
  • Bake the cake for 35-40 minutes, until well browned on top but not yet set in the middle.
  • Tent the cake with a large piece of aluminum foil to prevent over-browning, the bake again for 15 additional minutes, until the cake tests done with a toothpick inserted near the center.
  • Remove the cake from the oven and remove the foil. Poke holes all over the cake using the tines of a fork. Let cool until warm, about 20 minutes.

Coconut Soaking Syrup

  • Place the cream of coconut in a large bowl. If it has separated in the can, stir it together until consistently creamy (a few lumps are okay, or see notes for removing lumps).
  • Add the lime juice and rum extract. Whisk together until well combined.
  • Spoon or pour the syrup over the warm cake slowly, so that the syrup penetrates into the perforations. Set aside.

Coconut Pudding Layer

  • In the large bowl of an electric mixer (I used a hand mixer) add the dry pudding mix and the heavy cream. Beat on low speed until combined, then increase the speed to whip the mixture to soft peaks. Add the coconut extract. Beat again until thick and billowy. (Mixture may appear slightly grainy – this is normal).
  • Immediately scoop the pudding onto the cake and spread evenly. Refrigerate while you prepare the whipped cream topping.

Whipped Cream Topping and Garnishes

  • Place the whipped cream in the large bowl of an electric mixer (again, I used a hand mixer for this). Whip until slightly thickened. Sprinkle in the confectioners’ sugar as you mix. Add the vanilla extract and beat until stiff peaks form.
  • Dollop the whipped cream over the coconut pudding layer and spread evenly, leaving about 1/2 inch of the coconut pudding layer showing around the edges. Chill the cake in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
  • Before serving, add the maraschino cherries and coconut. Arrange the lime slices on top, if using.
  • Add a fun drink umbrella to complete the theme! Serve during warm weather months for picnics and potlucks – or anytime you crave a tropical treat.

Notes

What to Expect: This is a moist, tropical-tasting cake that is twice topped with cold creamy coconut pudding and whipped cream. It tastes fantastic chilled and improves upon refrigeration, so it can be made a couple of days ahead of serving. It has 13×9 pan simplicity and feeds a crowd!
Get the Right Pineapple: Be sure to get the canned crushed pineapple in its own juice, and not in heavy syrup.
Get the Right Coconut: Also, a second reminder to get the right canned coconut product. The Cream of Coconut product is often found in the beverage aisle at the grocery store near the cocktail mixers. It is sweet and syrupy.
Separated Cream of Coconut: Upon opening the can, it may be separated, which is normal separation of fat solids from liquid. Just stir it together before using in this recipe. You may also microwave it for 30 seconds to 1 minute to melt any lumps of fat back into the liquid
Keyword 13×9 cake, butter rum extract, Coco Lopez, coconut whipped cream, cream of coconut, crushed pineapple, fresh lime juice, instant pudding mix, July Fourth desserts, lime slices, maraschino cherries, Memorial Day dessert, pina colada cake, poke cake, summer cake, tropical cake
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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Kyle Peterson
Kyle Peterson
25 days ago

Hello,thank you for putting out a poke cake where the cake is from scratch.This is why you are my go to for all/most things baking.Sooo thank you,thank you oh and thank you.

Maggie
Maggie
24 days ago

I know you state that I can use rum or rum extract in the syrup. I have no qualms with using alcohol in the cake just want to use whichever one gives a more pronounced rum flavor. Which would you recommend?

Maggie
Maggie
20 days ago
Reply to  Heather Baird

The cake turned out DELICIOUS! Huge hit! The serving size on the recipe states 12 but this could easily have served almost double that. Great for a big group!